For the Fredonia State Blue Devils hockey team it was one of their toughest competitions of the season when the Penn State Nittany Lions visited Steele Hall Ice Arena on Tuesday.
The two teams met up last season while the Nittany Lions were still working their way into a NCAA Varsity-level team and Penn State was able to edge out the Blue Devils 5-4. The Nittany Lions will complete the transition to Division I status next year.
This year was a different story.
Penn State was able to win in convincing fashion as it outshot the Blue Devils, 50-18, for a 4-0 shutout.
However, the toughness that the home team displayed was not evident by the four-goal difference.
"We want to play good teams," Fredonia State coach Jeff Meredith said. "You want to put it all on the line. I'm very proud of the way we played. There was no quit in us, we just kept working all night."
Penn State got the scoring started with 2:05 left in the first period after a physical first 17 minutes of the game.
Connor Varley netted the first goal of the game from out near the blue line with David Glen and Curtis Loik picking up assists on the play.
Despite being down by a goal, Fredonia State continued to play strong against Penn State throughout the second period until the closing seconds before intermission.
The Blue Devils were a man down after a penalty when the Nittany Lions scored with 35 seconds left in the second period.
Fortunately for the home team, the goal was waved off by the referees because the puck was knocked in by a Penn State player's glove.
The turning point in the game came just 30 seconds later when Casey Bailey put back a rebound with four seconds left on the clock.
"That was a tough one," Meredith said of the goal. "We were four seconds away from getting out of the period. We were just one bounce of the puck away from a 1-0 score in the third period."
The momentum that Penn State gained with that goal carried over into the third period as the Nittany Lions netted a goal midway through the period off the stick of Jacob Friedman.
Penn State added one more goal in the waning seconds on an empty net opportunity.
Matthew Skoff made 18 saves for the visitors while completing the shutout in the win.
"Hats off to their goalie," Meredith said. "There were a couple of scouts from the Sabres here tonight and one of them, Nik Fattey is a Fredonia State alum. He seemed very familiar with Penn State's goalie, so that gives you an idea of how good he must be."
While Skoff may have earned the shutout, his counterpart Mark Friesen had an outstanding night of his own.
Friesen stopped 46 of Penn State's 50 shots.
"Mark Friesen may have been the best player on the ice tonight," Meredith said. "I like where we are at as a team. Even though in our last three games we are 1-2, some people may look at that and think things aren't going well, but I would disagree. I think we are playing very good hockey."
Fredonia State does not play again until Jan. 4 when it hosts St. Anselm.
There are also still jerseys available for the Feb. 8, "Pink the Rink" game. Those interested in purchasing a jersey should contact Coach Meredith at Meredith@Fredonia.edu for more information.